Journalism graphics major Adam Baumgartner won

first place in Excellence in Student Journalism from

the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation.

Adam Baumgartner credits his experiences at Ball State—teachers’ mentorship, running the student newspaper, internships at major media outlets—with helping him win the top honor from the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation. The journalism graphics major got first place in Excellence in Student Journalism.

“Ball State definitely helped me connect with the folks at my first internship” at the Indianapolis Star. That job led to an internship at the Chicago Tribune, then at Vox Media. Along the way, he’s picked up real-world experience that has taught him the skills to tell stories in the digital age.

The Indianapolis Press Club Foundation was impressed with his abilities and experience.

“Increasingly, journalism is more than just the written word,” says Janet Williams, who chairs the scholarship committee that chose Baumgartner. “What we saw in Adam was some real creativity in doing journalism through graphics, through design, in addition to kind of the traditional written word. It was just really solid explanatory journalism.”

Baumgartner received a $5,000 scholarship, and the Department of Journalism received $1,000.

Introduction to journalism

It all started—the education, the work experience, the accolades—Baumgartner says, with a conversation he had his freshman year with Jennifer Palilonis, George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Multimedia in the Department of Journalism.

 “When you’re 18, you question a lot of your decisions,” he says. In this case, he wasn’t sure about his major. Palilonis introduced him to journalism graphics, and he hasn’t wavered since.

Equally, Palilonis “distinctly remembers” meeting Baumgartner. “I could tell immediately he’s incredibly bright,” she says. “He’s very enthusiastic—immediately one of those students you have a feeling about.”

Storytelling in all forms

Adam Baumgartner, a journalism graphics

student, works in the Unified Media Lab.

Baumgartner describes his approach to storytelling as “holistic”—mixing stories, photos, design, and all other elements into a single package.

Design has always appealed to Baumgartner. But he most lights up when he explains the deeper significance of storytelling, especially journalism.

“I think it’s critical that we, as a society, have access to free and open information,” he says, “that we as a society not just read about the political news but the struggles and triumphs of each other’s lives.”

Baumgartner, who plans to graduate in May 2015, coupled his classes with long hours at The Ball State Daily News student newspaper, nicknamed the DN. There, he started as a page designer and rose through the ranks to editor-in-chief.

“I do think being a designer positions people uniquely to see how the entire newsroom operates,” he says, “to see how photos, graphics, and editorial teams have to work together to collaborate, to create these elaborate and holistic packages.”

Doors open to internships

Amid his studies and the DN, he sat down with editors from the Indianapolis Star during a visit that the journalism faculty coordinated.

“From there, the doors opened since I had a really great internship,” Baumgartner says. The Indy Star led to the Chicago Tribune, which convinced Vox to hire him for an internship.

Vox didn’t let him go at the end, though. Baumgartner continues working part-time for the digital media company as he finishes his bachelor’s degree.

“He already has a national reputation,” Palilonis says.